My Life with FRED

Who? FRED. The FormBet Race Database. Over the last month I've been quite busy building an online database search tool for the FormBet ratings service.

While proprietor Dave McAuley wanted to focus on developing the best UK and Irish horse racing ratings service, many of his subscribers were eager for information regarding how certain strategies performed historically. These requests ranged from straightforward information about a particular rating's returns overall, through to much more fine grained questions involving multiple filter parameters. All of this was eating into Dave's time, which he would rather spend developing and managing the ratings themselves. The solution was to build for subscribers an online search tool, putting the power of system development using historical data directly into their hands.

Having been a FormBet subscriber for some time, and also guilty of requesting adhoc in-depth historical analysis, a conversation started around my capabilities in software development and whether I'd be interested in building something for the service. I have some skills with the R statistical programming language, and had to data built a few small web apps using the Shiny framework. FRED was destined to be one of my bigger projects to date.

FRED is written entirely in R, using RStudio's IDE and their outstanding Shiny web apps framework. Currently, FRED is also hosted by their shinyapps.io service, although we're working through reviews of various self hosting options, including other big cloud providers like Digital Ocean, or a smaller UK based outfit like Krystal, which would tie in with FormBet's existing hosting arrangements.

What can FRED do? If you're really interested in knowing more, there's a free webinar planned for this Saturday afternoon at 4.00pm GMT. A demonstration of FRED and other FormBet services will be covered. However, as a quick overview, currently FRED allows FormBet subscribers to interactively select from over fifty individual filter options and review an output with details of Runs, Wins, Strike Rate, Yield%, Level Points returns and A/E ratio. This is not all just text either! Plots are included for those who find visual data representations more appealing. All straight from your web browser.

This is FRED

(Right click, View Image for a larger version)

The option to dig deeper is also available, through a series of detailed reports showing cumulative returns for twenty-seven different data ranges, from general race items such as course, jockey, trainer and sire, through to a collection of FormBet specific ratings.

This is also FRED

(Right click, View Image for a larger version)

Although I've been plugging away at this for around one month now, and the application has leaped forward each week, there's still so much to do and what can be seen today is really just the beginning of abundant possibilities. Daily system qualifiers feeding straight into FormBet's Autobet Betfair bot? It's on the development priority list.

I've been really impressed using Shiny on a larger project, and while it hasn't been a completely fault free experience, I have found the combination of Shiny, RStudio and shinyapps.io to be a well integrated experience, even if my poor old laptop started to struggle when data load increased. The team at shinyapps.io have alse been very approachable with requests for more information.

Access to FRED is only available to FormBet seasonal subscribers, which will set you back £165 for the winter jumps season. This is quite good value at less than £30 per month, considering it covers both daily ratings and historical analysis through FRED. Worth a punt!